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Looking Back … Before the Senior Center

Between 1961 and 1983 a group of seniors met weekly at the Casino. They were a strong and organized group with officers, standing committees, and bylaws. The Club met weekly October through May. Unofficial outdoor meetings were held at the beach during the summer months.

Meetings consisted of sing-a-longs, travel stories, card games and refreshments. Once a month they had a dance.  The first president was Alice Kittelburger. Senior Center Volunteer Margaret Reilly was one of those early members along with her mother Rose Chyz and her aunt Anne Howay. Every week Margaret played cards with her friends Lillian Tomkins, Katherine Lehnebach, and Katherine Dudka. 

The members paid annual dues of $1 and a weekly donation of  25 cents.  Jay P. Clymer (former Gulfport Mayor) was the Chaplain and his wife Naomi played the piano.

In 1983 the Club relocated to the newly constructed Senior Center on Beach Blvd. and 27th Ave. S.  By then there was a waiting list of seniors wanting to join the Club.  That took care of itself when the Club broke off into smaller interest groups.

A notable offshoot was a musical group called the Ukulele Ladies. The 16 member group played ukuleles and wore grass skirts and Hawaiian blouses made by Katherine Lehnebach.  Before long, the Ladies took their show on the road. The ladies held strong for 10 years.

It’s hard to believe the Senior Citizens Club, too, is now only a memory.  Lucy Maggio was its last president. With the exception of the Gulfport Garden Club, the groups dissolved one by one. Nevertheless, they are an important part of the history of the Gulfport Senior Center. Thanks to  Margaret Reilly for taking the time to share her memories.

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